Invictus (Paco Rabanne)

It's ironic that when I first approached the Dior counter to try Sauvage, an eager salesboy cut me off to try Invictus, a scent I'd already tried twice before. Even more ironic is the fact that Sauvage is pegged as being "generic," "disappointing," "non-Sauvage," "boring," and "synthetic," when in fact Invictus is the real embodiment of those charges, a hundred times over. In comparison to Rabanne's scent, Sauvage is a delicately balanced niche act that only the best noses should deign to poo-poo.

When I think of a blatant designer masculine fragrance fail, I certainly don't think of Sauvage, nor do I think of Bleu de Chanel, Platinum Egoiste, or something as unfortunately ubiquitous as Rabanne's own 1 Million. No, I think of Invictus, a terrible fragrance from top to bottom. This scent is the epitome of cheapness. Its profile - sweet fruit and ambery, vanillic musks - is overtly synthetic, compositionally scratchy (the notes pierce my nose), and as innocuously forgettable as elevator muzak. Its eventual drydown to a bland, super-soapy "fresh" amber is none too convincing, even as far as "youthful" scents go, and if you're looking for a better soapy frag, look no further than Paco Rabanne's original masculine from forty years prior.

Invictus' citrus notes are perhaps its strongest feature, with a somewhat presentable grapefruit and mandarin orange accord that isn't outright offensive, but these are infused with a despicable "sea foam" note, a very chemical, fake-salty element, loud and ill judged alongside the relatively modest fruits. Again, if you want a woody citrus accord with a good sea spray accent, look no further than another terrific classic from the last thirty years, Cool Water (pre-2014 version). Why suffer through the unnecessary noise of Invictus' tidal wave chemical blast when Bourdon did it better, and for less money?

I can rattle off a bunch of other classics that Invictus reminds me of, including Drakkar Noir, Eternity, and Aspen. Invictus is remotely similar to all of these in certain ways, except it's dressed like David Arquette, sporting a Justin Bieber haircut. Worth the designer price for a bottle? No. Enough said.

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